Queenstown, THE top destination in New Zealand!

Posted: February 9, 2014 in vacation
Tags: , , , , , ,

The drive from Fox Glacier was through hilly terrain, and amidst drizzling rain. And it was a rainy Lake Wanaka that we reached and stopped at.

It would have been wonderful to have had a drier day at Lake Wanaka, because it is such a pretty location. In fact, quite a perfect tourist spot, with a great promenade to walk around, wide range of food options, and a generally fun feel to the place. When we were there, not only was it drizzling, but it had become chilly too, so we did not spend much time, except to walk around a bit, find a place to eat, and then head out.

We did however, stop at a very interesting place in Wanaka called “The Puzzling World” – a place full of a variety of puzzles, a place where parents can come with kids and hang around all day, amidst a variety of puzzle types.

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From there, it was straight to Queenstown, and what we had been eagerly looking forward to. Even as you enter the town, you see this absolutely stunning, and huge lake, surrounded by hills and really nice looking houses all over. It’s a fabulous picturesque impact, that first view of Queenstown. The downtown is full of life, with several food places, ice cream shops, the lake and the boats, a promenade to walk around. In fact, there are food places with a variety of cuisines – we tried Indian and Mexican over the two days that we were there, and both were great!

One of the must-do things that people had recommended in Queenstown was to go to Milford Sound. It is a 4-hour drive each way, and a 2-3 hour cruise at Milford Sound, in between. I wanted a break from driving, and also 8-9 hours of driving in the day, was not exactly what I was looking forward to. So we wanted to do the trip by bus instead, and not need to worry about driving, at least for the one day! Except that on Jan 2, in the middle of a busy tourist season, almost all buses were full, and we had a struggle to find seats for ourselves. After several attempts, we managed to get those bus seats and we were set for Milford Sound, our first big sightseeing activity at Queenstown.

Milford Sound was an ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING experience, and it deserves those capitalised letters!! As the guide explained to us, the place is one of the rainiest of all places in the world, with 300 days of rain in a year. And in fact, 200 days of gale force winds in a year! And yes, we were there on one of those very rainy days, though not gale force winds, thank God!

And it made the entire experience surreal. Going out on a cruise at the fjord, with tall mountains on both sides, and large number of waterfalls coming down from great heights, several at a time! And amidst clouds that were low, the wind blowing strong, including some falls where the wind was literally taking the water UP, instead of down!!

It was pretty much out-of-the-world experience. The pictures may or may not do full justice to the place, you have to be there to experience what Rudyard Kipling called the “8th wonder of the world”!

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So the whole day was devoted to Milford Sound, and that left us the next half of a day to do other things in Queenstown. One of the things that Queenstown is known for, is adventure activities like Skydiving, Bungee jumping, etc. As my daughters, especially the younger one, were keen to try some of these out, we were looking out for these options.

Skydiving was the preferred one, but again, on account of weather issues, the skydiving was not happening, and my daughter was very disappointed. So the next day, we just thought of going up the gondola ride, at the top of which, there was going to be luge rides and a great view of the town.

And indeed, the view was fantastic, and the girls enjoyed the luge ride too. And there was some awesome food up there, as well. But what was a surprise discovery once we went up, was to find a bungee jumping option out there. And my younger daughter was very game to go for it. And she did. And that was clearly the big highlight for us.

Here are some pictures from the rest of our Queenstown experience, including the bungee jumping.

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So that was the breathtaking and awesome Queenstown. We would have loved to stay here some more, but the rest of our tour plan beckoned, and we needed to leave, and get to the next place.

The next stop was to be Twizel, another small town, but from where we would be visiting Mount Cook Village and Lake Tekapo.

We headed out of Queenstown then, towards Twizel.

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